Worth a Trip: Prehistoric Corsica: Filitosa & Cauria

Southern Corsica boasts the island’s most astonishing prehistoric sites, set amid stunning landscapes and essential viewing for anyone with an interest in Europe’s earliest civilisations.

The granite menhirs (standing stones) at Filitosa, 20km north of Propriano, were first erected as much as 6000 years ago, perhaps to mark communal tombs. Many were re-carved during the Bronze Age to hold detailed faces and weaponry, and thus, uniquely, appear to depict specific individuals, perhaps warriors or chieftains. Current theories suggest that the so-called ‘Sea Peoples’, long-standing enemies of the ancient Egyptians, may have sailed west across the Mediterranean to Corsica at this time, and taken over pre-existing settlements such as Filitosa.

The desolate and beautiful Cauria plateau, 15km south of Sartène and reached by turning right onto the D48 just south of town, holds further megalithic curiosities. To find them, follow signs to Stantari, then walk 10 minutes down a dirt track, where they’re set along a 40-minute loop trail, close to a fantastic jumble of naturally eroded boulders that surely served as an ancient landmark. Both Stantari and Renaghju are short alignements (lines) of standing stones that show similar anatomical details and weaponry to those at Filitosa; Funtanaccia is a dolmen, one of Corsica’s few burial chambers, with its pillars and capstones fully exposed.

Both sites can easily be visited from Sartène; alternatively, U Mulinu di Calzola is a gorgeous inn located right on the banks of the Taravo river, less than 10 minutes’ drive from Filitosa. Dinner on the shaded terrace is certain to win you over after a day sightseeing.